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The usefulness of inaccurate models: Towards an understanding of the emergence of financial risk management

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  • Millo, Yuval
  • MacKenzie, Donald

Abstract

Is the growth of modern financial risk management a result of the accuracy and reliability of risk models? This paper argues that the remarkable success of today's financial risk management methods should be attributed primarily to their communicative and organizational usefulness and less to the accuracy of the results they produced. This paper traces the intertwined historical paths of financial risk management and financial derivatives markets. Spanning from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, the paper analyses the social, political and organizational factors that underpinned the exponential success of one of today's leading risk management methodologies, the applications based on the Black-Scholes-Merton options pricing model. Using primary documents and interviews, the paper shows how financial risk management became part of central market practices and gained reputation among the different organisational market participants (trading firms, the options clearinghouse and the securities regulator). Ultimately, the events in the aftermath of the market crash of October 1987 showed that the practical usefulness of financial risk management methods overshadowed the fact that when financial risk management was critically needed the risk model was inaccurate.

Suggested Citation

  • Millo, Yuval & MacKenzie, Donald, 2009. "The usefulness of inaccurate models: Towards an understanding of the emergence of financial risk management," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 638-653, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:34:y:2009:i:5:p:638-653
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    1. repec:spr:reaccs:v:22:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11142-017-9403-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hall, Matthew, 2010. "Accounting information and managerial work," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28539, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Andrikopoulos, Andreas, 2015. "Truth and financial economics: A review and assessment," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 186-195.
    4. Christel Dumas & Céline Louche, 2016. "Collective beliefs for responsible investment," Post-Print hal-01183744, HAL.
    5. Reto Cueni & Bruno S. Frey, 2014. "Forecasts and Reactivity," CREMA Working Paper Series 2014-10, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    6. Andrikopoulos, Andreas & Economou, Labriana, 2016. "Coauthorship and subauthorship patterns in financial economics," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 12-19.
    7. Piotr, Staszkiewicz, 2012. "Model for reputational risk for subsidiaries of non-public group with reciprocal shareholding," MPRA Paper 35812, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Williams, James W., 2013. "Regulatory technologies, risky subjects, and financial boundaries: Governing ‘fraud’ in the financial markets," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 544-558.
    9. Millo, Yuval & Schinckus, Christophe, 2016. "A nuanced perspective on episteme and techne in finance," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 124-130.
    10. Bernardo Batiz-Lazo, 2017. "Between novelty and fashion.Risk management and the adoption of computers in retail banking," Working Papers 17001, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    11. Forbes, William & Hudson, Robert & Skerratt, Len & Soufian, Mona, 2015. "Which heuristics can aid financial-decision-making?," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 199-210.
    12. repec:eee:aosoci:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:79-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Jovanovic, Franck & Schinckus, Christophe, 2017. "Econophysics and Financial Economics: An Emerging Dialogue," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780190205034.
    14. Beunza, Daniel & Stark, David, 2012. "From dissonance to resonance: cognitive interdependence in quantitative finance," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 45604, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Hall, Matthew, 2010. "Accounting information and managerial work," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 301-315, April.
    16. Mikes, Anette, 2011. "From counting risk to making risk count: Boundary-work in risk management," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 226-245.

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